14 Oct, 2008

Manga Minis, 10/14/08

By: Katherine Dacey and Sam Kusek

This week, Sam Kusek steps up to the plate with three mini reviews, weighing in on the latest volumes of O-Parts Hunter and Reborn! (Viz) and one-shot Pretty Poison (Aurora). Also in the mix: Kate’s quick take on the first volume of Koi Cupid (Broccoli Books).


Koi Cupid, Vol. 1

By Mia Ikumi
Broccoli Books, 176 pp.
Rating: Everyone

Ai, Koi, and Ren are three cupids-in-training with utterly different personalities: Ai is a cheerful chatterbox, Koi is a self-doubting worrywart, and Ren is a smug over-achiever who constantly compares her performance with Ai’s. All three use different strategies to help humans find their soul mates, from the old-fashioned bow and arrow (Koi’s M.O.) to a magic notepad (Ai’s M.O.). When a demon named Lizette sabotages one of Ai’s missions, however, the three cupids try combatting Lizette’s schemes through the power of friendship.

If you’re contemplating an insulin shot or a plate of cruciferous veggies right now, you’re not alone: I also found Koi Cupid just a little too cloying for my tastes. The series wins points for its gentle humor–Koi’s poor aim is one of the book’s better running gags–and gentle wisdom, two selling points for younger readers. (Well, that and the talking cat who supervises the girls. Talking animals + kids with wings = all ages gold!) But Koi Cupid earns demerits for its Mary Sue characters, predictable plotlines, and all-too-easily resolved “conflicts,” not to mention the numerous close-ups of frilly panties. (They beg the uncomfortable question, Who was the original audience for this book?) None of these issues will bother the manga’s target audience of pre-teen readers, however, as the button-cute artwork and happy endings will carry them past the story’s weaker points.

–Reviewed by Katherine Dacey


O-Parts Hunter, Vols. 11-12

By Seishi Kishimoto
Published by Viz
Rating: Older Teen (16+)

For the past few months, I have had a secret obsession with O-Parts Hunter. At first, I thought the series would be a huge flop because it looked a little childish. I will openly admit that I was wrong and now am happy that I managed to stick with it. Volumes eleven and twelve pick up in the middle of the Rock Bird/Olympia Saga and are action-packed. We witness three intensive fights during these volumes: the end of that steamy bout between Jin the Flame Wielder vs. the cold Shuri, the entire Jio vs. Ball fight (which, sadly, was interrupted) and the beginnings of the fight between the two biggest recipes in the reverse Kabbalah, Jio/Satan vs. Beelzebub.

I would compare O-Parts Hunter with Kekkaishi in terms of it being a representation of shonen at its best. Thought the series may not be a blockbuster like Bleach or Naruto, it still can really hold its own and in my opinion outshines them both. O-Parts Hunter introduces us to the fantastical but doesn’t make it confusing or ridiculous. It keeps itself in check and really keeps the story rolling along quite nicely. If you hadn’t had a chance, do check it out.

–Reviewed by Sam Kusek


Pretty Poison

By Yutta Narukami
Aurora/Deux, 175 pp.
Rating: Mature

When I first laid eyes on Pretty Poison, I told myself “I’m almost positive this will not be pretty.” I read it cover to cover, didn’t enjoy it, and moved on. I recently gave Pretty Poison a second chance and discovered that it’s not bad. Pretty Poison consists of stories dealing with romantic relationships and a lot of sex. One is a tale of a girl betrayed by her former lover, who falls in love with an accomplice of his, while the other is about a couple who might not be ready to get married. Pretty Poison is, on the whole. a light-hearted book. The stories are about the sweetness in finding someone who loves you for you. The book is well balanced and isn’t just about the main characters going at it—these are real stories. The postscript at the end of the book gives insight into the author’s wish to tell stories with an actual beginning, middle and an end. And while I agree with Yutta Narukami that readers enjoy actual love stories instead of just pleasure-fests, there are better love stories out there for people to learn from and enjoy.

–Reviewed by Sam Kusek


Reborn!, Vol. 9

By Akira Amano
Viz, 202 pp.
Rating: Teen (13+)

This is volume that I have been waiting for because this is the moment when tender Tsunayoshi stops being so small and powerless and gets down to the real mafia business. The volume opens in the climax of the Mukuro saga, with the gang fighting off a fake Mukuro and then heading to the base to take out the real one. Everyone from Gokudera Hayato to Hibari gets a chance to shine in this volume, but there are two real winners overall: Tsuna and Mukuro.

I really like Mukuro as a very enigmatic villain, even though he is a big creep. I’ve always said that the best villains have the most original techniques. Mukuro’s “Six Wheels of Hell” eye is one of the more interesting ideas I’ve seen all year, so much praise to Akira Amano. All in all, I would recommend this series as a whole, though at this point in time, it is becoming progressively different, making the switch from humor to action—though if you can’t appreciate the humor in Reborn!, you won’t want to bother with the actual content later on.

–Reviewed by Sam Kusek

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